Hans-Christian Dany 10.97

Fabrice Hybert
"Testoo (r) Muster" ("Testoo (r) Samples")

"Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig"
19 September - 15 October 1997
"Galerie Eigen + Art", Berlin
6 September - 18 October 1997

Inviting Fabrice Hybert to Leipzig for a project in conjunction with the 500th anniversary of the granting of fair privileges to the city would seem a reasonable idea. The Frenchman's work centers around the creation of prototypes for products he would like to produce and market on a larger scale. To this end, Hybert founded the company "U.R." (Unlimited Responsibility) some time ago. The "Untergrundmesse" ("Underground Fair") was chosen as the testing ground for the most extensive presentation of future U.R. products to date. This is a cellar that is no longer sufficient for post-Socialist trade fair ambitions and is now used for events such as Lego exhibitions and the Christmas Market. At the entrance to the garage-like room an test survey in A5 format is handed out to the visitors. In the dim light, I did not immediately perceive the call for participation: "You have a chance now to test and influence the design. Take advantage of this opportunity." I decide to participate in establishing U.R. by taking part in the "HypertLotto", with which I am sure to win a "weekend trip to Paris for two." It is clear from the limited possibilities of the test survey, however, that Hybert and the cooperating art scholars from the University of Lueneburg are not particularly interested in the participation of their test candidates, despite these kinds of incentive prizes. At best, the survey participant may provide an evaluation mark from 1 to 6 and add a brief sentence about possible improvements. The reason that "U.R.'s" marketing research can afford this lack of interest is that the company is not actually financed through the sales of its products, but rather through the unique works deliciously daubed on canvas, which Hybert has on exhibition at the "Galerie Eigen + Art" in Berlin parallel to this event.
What makes the exhibition in Leipzig interesting is not so much the half-hearted claim of attempting to transfer artistic production to economic circulation outside the art market, as the simultaneously emerging, multifaceted network of an economy of desire. The focus on this aspect of the work is compounded by a list of poetic titles, such as "070 Transforming the Whole of Painting into a Single Thread" or "038 Index of Temporary Houses", guiding the visitor through the forest of Hybertian inventions like a map. Next to each of the 100 prototypes there is a screen, on which the charming transvestite Elaine Pine Carrington demonstrates the function of the objects or coquetishly reduces them to absurdity. The video, which has no other soundtrack at the beginning than the sound of birds, switches narrative styles from cheap department store advertising, to slapstick, to Jane Fonda's cult films on aerobics. In Berlin the videos are arranged in a square on a table, but they are not there to be viewed, because this is a sculpture. Stupid.
In the nested architecture of the exhibition in Leipzig, cross connections and atmospheric views are created with sheets of cellophane stretched between the existing pillars. The abundance in between creates a situation of unrest, in which imagination is constantly changing speed. Yet the intensity of the work is primarily a result of the strangeness or even bizarreness of the ostensible prototypes. Frequently, these are found objects that Hybert appropriates into his product park or private cosmos with slight modifications or a title. Thus, in the video a strip of sticky tape is transformed into a fantastic landing pad for unknown beings. There are abrupt switches particularly between the transformations, the methods and the sign systems that are used. The encounters with the objects often become especially intriguing at the point where Hybert makes minimal and seemingly transparent use of banalities, yet where the creation of increased value remains nevertheless puzzling. Here the transformations skip along a zigzag path between daydreams, word plays, casual jokes or sexual obsessions. The fingers of Hybert's representative play Jesus walking on the water in a bowl. Tupperware containers turn into babushkas. A diaper with a hose offers the "testers" an opportunity to reabsorb their secretions.
In closer proximity to the wonders of the world from a childlike perspective, there is a magnetic ring decorated with pins, or the blind corner of a mirror, in which you can hardly find your own face. At this point, if not before, the term "prototype" may be interpreted primarily in the figurative sense, specifically as a way of dealing with desire, the threat of desire and possible roads leading to its realization. Despite the sheer mass of the objects and their video narratives, they leave enough space for you to slip into your own fantasies, constantly opening doors to strange encounters. Yet the tester remains a guest in Hybert's symbolic body, admiring the luxurious "selection of goods."
There is no real interaction that takes place. The objects do not allow for that, even though they stimulate a desire to produce signs for oneself. They insist on clearly drawn proprietary relationships. Even though they speak of exchange, they only engage in unidirectional trade. The possibility of shared desiring remains caught in the seduction phase. Wish fulfillment is put off again and again through the delay of the promised exchange, which is, of course, attractive in its own way.

Erschien in Siksi, Helsinki.
Übersetzung: Aileen Derieg